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Terry Thomas signs in Moncton

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – The Island Storm has lost the reigning National Basketball League of Canada’s top Canadian.

Terry Thomas has signed with former Storm head coach Joe Salerno, who is now the bench boss with the Moncton Magic. Thomas played two seasons with the Storm, averaging 18.6 points, seven rebounds and 2.1 steals per game last year when the East Preston, N.S., native was named a first team all-star and was selected to the league’s all-defensive first team.

“I’m just excited to be able to play for my third straight season with coach Salerno, and with my good friend Al Stewart and a bunch of other talented players,” Thomas said in a release.

Tim Kendrick, the Storm’s new head coach, said it did what it could to try and retain Thomas.

“Terry was a good player here, but we’re rebuilding,” Kendrick said. “We’re just looking at bringing in the best players available that we can get and hope they can help lead us to a championship here on the Island.”

Asked if it was a money decision, Kendrick declined to comment.

Thomas was on the Storm’s protected list, but players essentially become restricted free agents if not signed by Oct. 1. Other teams can sign those players with the original team having the right to match the deal.

“We made a decision to try to revamp the franchise and rebuild the franchise and go in different directions,” Kendrick said. “Sometimes you have to move on and that's what we’ve done.”

Teams in the league can spend up to a salary cap of $178,500 on its players. Teams must have a minimum 10 players signed at a minimum of $1,600 per month, but there is no maximum per player.

Asked if the Storm explored trade opportunities for Thomas as opposed to losing the asset for nothing, Kendrick said: “We did as much as we possibly could in all of those scenarios.”

Shortly after the Magic’s announcement the Storm released the signing of North Preston, N.S., native Chris Johnson.

Kendrick said the timing was coincidental, as the team had previously planned on making the announcement on Thursday.

The 29-year-old Johnson has played in the United Kingdom, Germany and Portugal after two years with the St. Bonaventure Bonnies of the NCAA.

“I’m close with my family. My younger brother is in Grade 11 and is thinking about going to school in the States next year for basketball, so we made the decision as a family,” he said.  I think I can nurture him on and off the court.”

Kendrick hasn’t coached Johnson before but knew him and his family from his long history in Nova Scotia.

“He’s a real, attacking, smart player,” Kendrick said of the six-foot-five Johnson, who brings versatility and experience to the club. “We see him (as a) two, three and even physical enough to maybe even play a little bigger than that at times, depending on the lineup we have. I think he’s going to really surprise some people.”

Johnson is the fourth Canadian the Storm has announced as part of its training camp roster. Brad States, Tyler Scott and Kemy Osse are the other three. Teams must have five Canadians on their roster.

Training camp opens the first week of November with the Storm opening the season by hosting the expansion squad from St. John’s, N.L., on Nov. 18.

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